If I received a life insurance annuity payout by mistake, what are the legal ramifications if I don’t pay it back?

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If I received a life insurance annuity payout by mistake, what are the legal ramifications if I don’t pay it back?

Recently I had a loved one pass away. I received a life insurance annuity payout, and then received a letter 2 weeks later stating that this payout was a mistake. I was asked to return it. What are the legal ramifications if I don’t as this is the insurance company’s mistake. Also, I am not sure if this in fact was a mistake, and I have no of knowing since I lived in a different state than my mom.

Asked on June 28, 2015 under Insurance Law, Georgia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

IF it was a mistake, then if you don't repay it, they can sue you to get the money, and possibly their costs of suit (e.g. legal fees)--the fact that someone makes a mistake does NOT give you right to keep their money. (Consider: say that you had the plumber come, paid him $200 on the spot, then forgot you'd paid him and sent a second check for $200. Do you think he could keep your extra $200, or would you expect it back? You'd expect it back, and you'd be legally entitled to it.)

Whether it is or is it  a mistake is a different issue: you can and should ask them to document/support that it was a mistake. But if it was, you must return it.


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